LIVE SETUP opinions - midi or solidstate

Whats the best choice for professionals?


  • Total voters
    3

Joined
Feb 24, 2017
Messages
4
Reaction score
1
Hello all!

Recently I switched instruments after 15 years of playing guitar. MY band couldn't find a suitable keyboard / sample artist so I stepped in.

Since im a n00b What is everyones opinion on LIVE SETUP?

Currently I have :
M-Audio Axiom (gen 1) 61
Focusrite Scarlet 2i2
Laptop / Ableton Live Suite 9
Roland FC-300

This is what I had at my disposal when I decided to jump into keys

My question is: what is better? What is more efficient for a LIVE performance? a laptop / midi controller setup.. or a regular straight up synth keyboard?

How easy is it to set up your own presets / samples / sound on a normal synth keyboard?

My biggest fears are, equipment (laptop) failure.
 
Ad

Advertisements

SeaGtGruff

I meant to play that note!
Moderator
Joined
Jun 6, 2014
Messages
3,554
Reaction score
1,522
That's a really tough call, so I'm reluctant to cast a vote.

For a professional who's working in a studio environment-- even if it's just a home studio or one corner of the bedroom-- I'm tempted to vote for a laptop (or better yet, a desktop computer) with a MIDI controller.

But for a professional who's performing on stage, I'd have to vote for an actual synth or other keyboard-- although it also depends on the type of musical performance. For instance, if you're triggering phrases and loops using a grid-like pad controller, you'll be wanting to use a computer and software (be it Ableton Live or something else). And if you're in a band that has a road crew and plays venues like arenas or stadiums where they can set up earlier in the day and not have to quickly tear down their setup for the next act, then incorporating a computer into the setup is a lot more feasible and common. Of course, you don't need a road crew to set up a laptop and plug in a MIDI controller, and setting up and tearing down doesn't take much time at all, but there's the issue of equipment failure or damage, as well as whether the laptop is used for other purposes and has various programs running in the background using up some of the CPU power/time or is used exclusively for musical performances and has been stripped of all unnecessary background programs and optimized for playing virtual instruments.
 

Fred Coulter

Collector of ancient keyboards
Joined
Feb 15, 2016
Messages
825
Reaction score
427
Location
Central Florida
My vote is based on LIVE performances even through the actual question didn't specify. (Although it is in the title of the post.) I'm really not a fan of taking computers on the road. Using them in a studio, great. Using them to edit the sequences that you use live, great. But for the actual performance? Stick with the keyboards.

In addition to roadworthiness, etc., there's the psychological aspect. If the audience doesn't see a computer, they think you're playing live. If they see a computer, they think the computer is playing and you're just the operator. (Yes, I know that with today's keyboards, there's little actual difference. You could drag a Kronos on the stage, click the start button, and randomly wave your hands around. But the audience thinks you're playing.)
 
Last edited:

Fred Coulter

Collector of ancient keyboards
Joined
Feb 15, 2016
Messages
825
Reaction score
427
Location
Central Florida
if you're triggering phrases and loops using a grid-like pad controller, you'll be wanting to use a computer and software (be it Ableton Live or something else).

My Kronos works real well with the nanoPAD2. There are three or four pads (although not velocity sensitive) on my Tyros. How many pads do you need at a given time? The Kronos can map samples to the pads. I think you can do the same with the Tyros, but I'm not sure. (It's not what I got the Tyros for.)

These can't be the only two keyboards that work well with pads without extensive programming.
 
Joined
Jun 28, 2014
Messages
1,808
Reaction score
1,725
Location
Adelaide, Australia
My question is: what is better? What is more efficient for a LIVE performance? a laptop / midi controller setup.. or a regular straight up synth keyboard?
I think this is a matter of personal preference. I prefer the latter, easier to set up and less opportunity for something to fail, but you will find other live players who swear by the former.

How easy is it to set up your own presets / samples / sound on a normal synth keyboard?
99% of modern keyboards make it very easy to save favourite sounds for easy access when you need them live. Every keyboard is different, but many of them have quite powerful editing potential as well, so you can alter and create sounds to taste. Importing your own samples is not quite as common, but it can be done too with certain 'boards. The bottom line is you'd need to decide what you wanted to use a keyboard for first, and then do a bit of research to find the one that best fits your needs.

And welcome to the forum!
 

scullen

Converts oxygen into carbon dioxide.
Joined
Jan 12, 2017
Messages
30
Reaction score
23
Location
North Texas
For live, I prefer a real keyboard. For studio, a DAW.

I did a show about 4 years ago where I played bass and we had 2 keyboard players among a 9 piece. The keys were using laptops for a wide variety of sounds. One of them rebooted during the show and that keyboard went silent and then reverted to piano. Not what you want in a live show.
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Feb 13, 2017
Messages
183
Reaction score
130
I've been playing the laptop route (MainStage) for about 6 years now and I'll never go back. I play live rock in a club twice a week, and I've never had any major problems. Greatest thing about the laptop route is I can pre setup my patches in far more sophisticated and complex ways, and play everything on one board where-as before I'd need 3-4. That's a lot less equipment, and a lot less devices that can fail. Only downside to the laptop route is that it takes a lot more time to setup initially. But the point is that it takes a load off your responsibilities in the moment, so you can concentrate on PERFORMING and not being an air traffic controller.

I have an Arturia Keylab88, which has a builtin laptop tray. I covered my mac with a black case, and it's practically invisible on stage. I've never had anyone question me about whether I'm triggering.

To each his/her own, though. One of the wonderful things about keyboards is there's so many varied workflows, and all of them have their advantages. I had to write my own midi-routing script through Max/MSP to achieve my holy grail, but for the way I like to operate, it's glorious. I also can mirror my main board off of any number of secondary controllers from keytars to Wii Remotes (yes, I play "Whip It" on a Wii Remote), with hardly any additional setup. That said, it would be very difficult to bring a conventional synth into my workflow, which is a little unfortunate.

EDIT: I also highly recommend having an SSD drive for laptop. I actually never had a problem with HDD, but I've heard of others who have, and SSDs are a lot faster and prone to less problems.
 
Last edited:

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments. After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.

Ask a Question

Top